Raleigh, N.C. — A bill filed by a bipartisan group of House lawmakers would make it a crime to leave pets unattended in a car in hot or cold conditions and would give law enforcement the authority to take action to save them.
House Bill 612, filed Monday by Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, would make it a Class 2 misdemeanor to leave a pet locked in a car in extreme temperatures or for long periods without food or water and a Class 1 misdemeanor if the act causes serious injury or death to the animal.
The bill's co-sponsors are Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, Rep. Rayne Brown, R-Davidson, and Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union.
Harrison said a Carrboro veterinarian asked her to run the bill.
Under current law, emergency responders called to help an animal in distress locked in a hot car have no legal authority to break a window or take other action to save the pet. All they can do is search for the pet's owner – a time-consuming task that can mean the difference between life or death for the trapped animal.
Harrison said many people who call police to help animals in distress in hot cars are amazed to learn there's little the police can do to help.
The bill would give law enforcement the power to "enter a motor vehicle by any reasonable means under the circumstances after making a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person responsible for the animal."
The bill has been not yet referred to a committee.